108 Mile Ranch resident Kimberly Vanderhorst has published a book of 100 days of encouragement. (Melissa Smalley photo - 100 Mile Free Press)

Debut novel offers ‘long hug on a hard day’

New book by Kimberly Vanderhorst amplifies positivity

In a time when negativity and bad news seem to resonate loudly, Kimberly Vanderhorst is on a mission to amplify positivity.

The 108 Mile Ranch resident has published a collection of thoughts and insights aimed at fostering optimism, love and self-worth in her debut book, Dear One – 100 Days of Encouragement for the Hopeful and Weary.

The uplifting content, presented in short poems and quotes, was not initially intended to be a book. It grew out of social media posts that Vanderhorst had shared on her various platforms and were met with requests for more.

“I had around two or three dozen people on a regular basis asking, ‘when is this going to be a book?’” Vanderhorst said. “I had been toying with the idea for probably over a year, but it seemed so overwhelming. I had no idea how to go about doing it.”

It wasn’t until a friend who worked in small-scale publishing offered assistance that the affirmations on social media evolved into something more formal. Vanderhorst went to work collecting and rewriting some of her favourites and published the finished product in the fall.

“We need these messages,” she said. “We need to be reminded that we don’t need to break ourselves in order to be worthy. We don’t need to shatter ourselves into pieces in order to be lovable.”

The book has so far garnered rave reviews online – “even from some people I don’t know,” Vanderhorst joked.

One post about the collection describes it as “a long hug on a hard day from the best hugger you know.”

Vanderhorst said she is delighted at the notion of her book helping others, and notes that it has been a therapeutic journey for herself as well as a mechanism to help her approach in raising four daughters.

“The way that I parent my girls is shifting to be more in line with the messages that have gone into my book, and I’m grateful for that,” she said. “There’s something about putting things into words that makes it a deeper truth. It settles into the bedrock of you more than just a passing thought.”

Publishing the book has also been an opportunity to highlight some often overlooked positive aspects of neurodivergence, she said.

Vanderhorst, who is autistic and ADHD, said she was able to tap into what she describes as “autistic joy” which allows her to present ideas, new and old, in a different light.

“We see things a little differently, and I think that’s part of why it resonates with people because it’s not always the same language that we’ve heard expressing these ideas,” she said, “Being autistic gives me an advantage in that sense. I can come at it from a different viewpoint.”

Vanderhorst is currently working on a second volume of encouraging words, which she hopes will be ready to publish in early spring. The process of writing and publishing has rekindled her love for fiction writing, something she had been pursuing in years past but stepped away from when her literary agent left the business.

In the meantime, she has big hopes for the words she has shared in her debut publication.

“I hope they help people hurt a little bit less,” she said. “I hope that when they read them there’s sort of this easing of tension in them of some false beliefs that have taken root and need to be weeded out.”


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